At Baffin, these boots are made for helping
STONEY CREEK A Hamilton company is putting boots on the ground to help the Calgary flood victims.
On Tuesday Baffin Polar Proven Footwear shipped out 7,000 pairs of rubber boots to Calgary customers, just after donating 250 pairs during the height of the emergency rescue efforts to aid agencies.
“I saw a picture in the Edmonton Sun of an elderly woman being carried out of her home by a firefighter and someone had slipped on a pair of Baffins,” said Jeff Wellwood, a spokesperson for the Arvin Avenue manufacturer. “It just fits in so nicely with our philanthropic vision.”
It’s not just floods that are swelling the need for Baffin’s footwear — the company’s industrial footwear as well as rugged outdoor gear has become so popular it is spending $2.8 million on a new 67,000-square-foot worldwide distribution warehouse addition, landscaping as well as an energy-efficient retrofit on the 100,000-square-foot original building.
Paul Hubner, president, said the new warehouse is a sign of a general strengthening in the market for all of Baffin’s products, including its new clothing line and a new industrial work boot that was launched last week.
“Those are just flying out,” he said.
It’s a sign of a company that is starting to build strong brand recognition, helped by the made-in-Canada label, he said.
“Believe it or not a lot of Europeans look for that Canadian-made product,” said Hubner.
So much so that he plans to bring production of the company’s Heritage brand snowboots back to Stoney Creek sometime next year.
“The price of doing business in China is going up and up so that while there’s still a big (production cost) difference, it’s not the difference it once was,” he said. “We feel there is good enough overall demand for that made-in-Canada product to bring it back here.”
Marvin Mimms, Baffin’s vice-president and CFO, said the addition will help contain some of those costs, using energy efficient lighting, and other products as part of the Save on Energy program at Horizon Utilities, with eventual savings of anywhere from 36 per cent to 48 per cent in electrical bills.
The warehouse itself also has a number of new features such as more doors, narrower aisles and taller, 32-foot ceilings to speed up shipping processes.
“This is more of a consolidation of spaces so our footprint isn’t that much larger but with this new design, we gain a lot more pallet positions,” said Mimms.
The company has also signed up to be a FIT (Feed in Tariff) 2 partner with a 500-kilowatt solar panel installed on its roof. It will initially sell back the electricity.
The addition itself will not bring any more warehouse jobs but Hubner said the company recently hired more sales and marketing staff as it completed the installment of proprietary business-to-business software for its customers and grew its customer base.
Baffin now has about 125 employees.
Article courtesy of Lisa Marr, The Hamilton Spectator.